tv Hardball With Chris Matthews MSNBC April 25, 2011 7:00pm-8:00pm EDT
trouble, but don't worry? i'm trying to be a friend, turn around, stop listening to washington media, the company is in a rage, they don't think this is the answer. please turn around. that's our show for tonight. thank you for watching. "hardball" starts right now. sgl republicans trying to kill medicare. let's play "hardball." good evening. i'm chris mast thews. leading off tonight, revenge of the people. remember is the videos where voters attack? now democrats are hoping on for a new round. the, democrats have 'em released
a video on the issue. it stops our show tonight plus, the republican protection racket for the rich. why do the republicans fight so hard to protect the rich from paying their fair of taxes? you tell me. donald trump's right wing buddy and the new york mayor who says he's birther mad. f-16s trying to kill gadhafi. from norway. no way. finally, haley barbour's not running for president. who is? we start with the backlash against the republican medicare kill. howard fineman is editor of "the huffington post" and david corn is washington bureau chief for mother jones magazine. both are msnbc political analysts. let me take a look.
see the latest footage. you can be sure someone will have a cell phone, a way of showing it to the world, everything now goes viral. here's republican congressman barletti elected in hazelton, pennsylvania facing constituents not over illegal immigrants, but over the republican effort to kill medicare. let's watch. >> what you're doing with this ryan budget is you're taking medicare and you're changing it from a guarantee health care system to one that is a voucher system where you throw seniors, i'm 64, you throw seniors on the mercy of for-profit insurance companies. the reason we have medicare in the first place is because seniors couldn't get health insurance. people won't cover seniors for the lousy $15,000.
you said nothing in the campaign about i'm going to change medicare. now you voted for a plan that will destroy medicare. >> boy, she is good. because she's totally informed and, by the way, the little pirouette she did, like, i own this room. and saying you ran against illegal immigrants. fair enough. next thing you know you're voting with the democrats like a lemming. to kill our medicare. pennsylvaniaens are not in that part of the country, not rich people. working class, middle class people and not heading off to florida to live there. they're going to make it through the winter there, and they need the medicare. why is this guy voting with the party like a leming? >> that's joe biden's homeland up there in the scranton, you know, eastern pennsylvania area. it's an older demographic. and the democrats are going to target anybody at or near -- >> looks like those people are targeting the republicans. >> definitely are. i think you can see much more -- >> why do they do that? howard, we have been in this business a long time. what moonshine did he drink that got him to vote with the
republican vote to kill medicare? one of the -- they're not going to kill social security. nobody's that nuts but close to being nuts messing with medicare. one program i have discovered everybody's like once they turn 65. >> yeah. i can't answer it other than to say that ideology trumps political common sense in this case, because they are fixated on the the idea that the route to salvation for the country and them politically is to cut government spending but that's not the popular -- >> average person doesn't think it's government spending. >> they don't. >> let me ask you this. they have dodges. we'll get to pat meehan the former u.s. attorney, defending him saying it's a blueprint. now the big dodge the republicans have, yeah, i voted for it but affects people 54 and younger and that woman apparently turned around saying, yeah, but i care about my nieces and nephews. i don't want them screwed out of medicare. >> more important than that, i mean, in that demographic, i worry. also, people have parents and people who are 30 and 40 looking
at the parents who may be 55 or 60 and heading in that direction, they don't want to worry about for-profit insurance taking care of their parents in the next five, ten years so it's not just 64 or -- >> here's the starbucks gift card. buy some insurance. take a look at the map. here's what's going on. the democrats aren't so stupid. they've got a map now. looking at around the country where they lost the seats and just last november this is not the 100 years war here. this is a few months ago. targeting those to get back, howard. >> one of the keys is five on the map, five of them in florida. five of the districts in florida, duh. not surprisingly. >> because? >> because of this senior demographic. >> they're the people with money. >> they have money but they care about this. they believe in it. you have arizona, iowa, pennsylvania. that's what they're going after. by the way, trying to exempt the younger people also, it doesn't necessarily help the republicans make their case because what they're saying to the younger voters is, we are going to screw you. we're going to screw you.
if you look at who supports what across the board -- >> okay. >> there are 13 congressional districts where people -- where they elected republicans in the last november and in 2008 and 2004 they voted for barack obama and john kerry. that's half of the 25 they're going after. bar letta is in those districts. these are the people to be running scared. democratic leaning or high registration districts where the people like medicare, like medicaid, as well. and they don't like tax cuts for the rich so they all should be worried what's going to happen. >> splits both ways. let's try to balance this out, this discussion. you look at the cash situation most americans, and most people drive cars. a lot of cash is going right into the pump right now. you know? whether you're doing the card or paying the cash. 78 bucks a pop, paying supreme. regular a little less. killed 100 bucks in cash. cash poor. you look at the value of your house. you thought it was worth 100k. you're getting
close to retirement. that's the nest egg and worth 70,000. what's happening today is people are facing cash poverty and wealth poverty. what i thought i owned in the back pocket i could watch television, at least i own the house, i'm going to sell it to retire with, it ain't what it was. you have a lot less money to buy an apartment, a condo. >> hey, and their -- >> medicare is getting screwed. it isn't going to cover you for your health. >> the kids are not getting good jobs. that's the other thing. >> who do you blame? >> the feeling of security is gone. >> here's a guy elected in -- in joe sestak's district. you know this district. delaware county. regular people. not a lot of right wing country folk. suburban folk. here they are realizing the guy they elected, a clean u.s. prosecutor is voting the republican lemming line. here he is trying to defend his vote and here he is. wait until you hear his defense. it is very interesting. a little too interesting. pat meehan, defending the vote to cut medicare.
>> if you voted to abolish medicare, how will you explain that to people who are in their 50s who are out of work that they will have not the medicare that i have? >> you said it. your comment. that i voted to abolish medicare and that's factually wrong. >> how is that wrong? >> let me answer the question. >> i will. >> then i'll talk to you. thank you. i voted for the ryan plan. what paul ryan has put out a blueprint, a sense of what we would like to do, a direction we would like to go in. >> do you think it helps that hi 'wearing a regular work shirt? >> no. >> to say it's a blueprint doesn't help either because it's -- what does that mean? he doesn't explain what that means and if the more he tries to explain actually what he voted for, the deeper trouble he is in because there's no way that the mathematics of the ryan plan would result in anything other than the average retired person paying at least 5,000 or $6,000 more a year in the end. these are not numbers made up. >> these are not suggested guidelines.
for the last year we've heard that paul ryan has a coherent plan to save the country. this is part of that. this is not sort of, well, let's have a committee and study to do this. republicans are on record of ending medicare and medicaid as -- >> it's like saying i voted to is the war, not to go to war. >> it's even worse than this. >> there's numbers. the congressional budget office and neutral umpires are saying there's no way that the vouchers that paul ryan would hand out would cover the costs and people have to absorb more themselves. but wait. with republicans not arguing with those numbers. >> let's take a look at this ad campaign put together by americans united for change. it's launched an ad campaign this week in four congressional districts at 35,000 a pop. by the way, after sean duffy, in this case, of wisconsin. watch the ad nails the republicans. let's listen. >> sean duffy looks like a nice young man but on april 15th he
voted to end medicare and guaranteed health care benefits. he wants seniors to get coverage from private insurance companies. under duffy's plans, seniors' costs will go up over $6,000. duffy wants to give millionaires a $200,000 tax break. ending medicare so millionaires can get another tax break? really? call congressman duffy and ask, what were you thinking? >> first of all, the voice. >> the person sounds like betty white. okay? >> it is betty white. no, i'm just kidding. >> that's -- >> grandy something say, how dare that nice young man deny me my benefits. >> i liked the looks but hurting me. >> guess what. the republicans are acting like republicans. they're squeezing the elderly and the poor to make room for tax cuts for the rich. this is a gift to the democrats that they can't do ads like that across the country. >> got two republicans on the run.
one saying it was a blueprint. the other said it's for 55 and younger. so howard, the fact they're already on the run, they're playing dodgeball here, does that tell -- what's that tell the top republicans in the house? >> you asked why did they do it? i think there was a sort of group frenzy, group mentality, that we have to do something with the tea party initially, we've got to be with the tea party. and so they did it. this was the one thing they felt they had -- >> are they dead? >> after the election. >> are they dead? >> well, they're going to run as fast as they can unless they change the subject. between now and next year, they're dead. >> how do they -- >> they can't change the fact. this is an albatross around their neck. they have a year and a half to try to -- >> it is a millstone around your neck. >> no. the ancient mariner wore the albatross as well, but this is a heavy burden for them to carry for the next year and a half because any time they talk about deficit. they thought they had an advantage on obama on the budget and the deficit and tax issues and all this stuff. now he has a counterargument.
yeah, but this is what they want to do. it's not going to go away. >> well, they have to change argument back to the fact that the government's broke and i don't know if they can do it. they'll try. >> and the economy. >> is it like hollywood? this is high concept. >> yeah. >> that part is high concept. losing the medicare money is not. that's the problem for the republicans. >> thank you. easier to understand the democratic argument. howard, david, jumping on the republican carcass. objectively. coming up, the hometown crowd of new york goes after donald trump, that 24/7 news media up there has nailed him. going after him now and the impressive mayor tougher than the media. he is hitting him for being a birther. "new york daily news" mort zuckerman, this is interesting. let's see how trump handles the nasty treatment from some of the intramural boys up in new york. you're watching "hardball."
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as you know i'm staying out of it. i think that mr. trump is having the time of his life. i congratulate him for getting the attention he is getting. >> i don't know what that means. welcome back to "hardball". that was john mccain on "meet the press." i don't know what he meant by that, weighing in on a possible trump presidency without saying a thing as trump becomes more serious, of course, so does the scrutiny from politicians and the media, especially back in new york. errol lewis is in new york and host of "inside city hall." and with us is jenny bachus.
overall, right now,er roll, what's going on in new york? mort zuckerman's paper, he's a big developer up there. is this intramurals? new york? i don't the heat on the guy? >> i don't know if it's heat. it's a challenge to be taken seriously. if you do take him seriously, we also went in and looked at the voting record and found he didn't vote in a primary in over 20 years. it comes with the territory. and frankly, it is a love tap compared to the scrutiny he is going to get if he gets into a presidential primary. >> do you think that's going to hurt him with the birther crowd that he didn't vote in primaries in new york city? >> you know, he switched parties and then didn't vote as a democrat or a republican. it starts to look a little bit funny. he was saying nice things about the president, about barack obama's as late as last year or 2009. >> here's trump on "fox & friends." i swear he gets up and turns on the tv and watching fox. >> here he is on "this morning,"
today, talking about the voting record, defending it point by point but not quite accurately. let's watch. >> sometimes you will have a primary where republican is even mentioned and where there is no republican or where he is expected to get 4% of the vote and i'll be in a foreign state or i'll be in a foreign country doing business and i am i supposed to drive back when the republican is considered to get 3% of the vote or there is no republican even running? so a little bit of that, but in terms of the general election, my record is very good. generally speaking, i like to vote. i'm a believer in voting, i will tell you. >> i love this, jenny. he says the same thing to the church crowd. you know, i go wherever i can. i'm a sunday kind of guy. easter, you know. amazingly new bar has been set very low. first of all, apparently he didn't vote in the general election of 2002, so i guess he will qualify that again and say, okay, i only vote in presidential general elections. takes a while to get this straight, i guess. >> a cult of personality right now. i think everyone wants a little bit of amusement, spring is in the air. people are looking for something
to laugh at. the numbers are going down. the bottom line is this guy is a figment of everybody's imagination in some -- >> he is? >> well, yeah. >> who's got a better chance of being elected president next year, him or pawlenty? >> pawlenty. >> really? >> no. >> yes. >> i don't think he's up against a fast track here. i think he's on a muddy slow track, galloping along. >> come on, chris. you know that presidential races are won by slogging it out in iowa and new hampshire. he is mr. florida. flying in to iowa in the gold coach plane. >> what do you make of this bloomberg thing, the mayor went after me, saying he's an icon and then yesterday but then he went on to challenge the birther issue? let's watch a very respectable mayor bloomberg go after his fellow new yorker. let's watch. >> anybody can run for president if you're 35 and an american citizen and born here. the president was born here. this birther issue is more than one person. there's a lot of groups that have glommed onto this. i think the republicans are making a terrible mistake in making this a big issue. we have immigration. we have the deficit.
we have the economy. those are the things that the public cares about. if the republican party doesn't start addressing that, they will lose and deserve to. >> not as a journalist but as an american, are you offended by this birther talk? >> not really. it's obviously a stand-in for something else. people lost their minds over something related to the president and expresses itself in this peculiar way. i pity these people more than anything. >> what is it? is it factual? is it true inquiry or skepticism or so's your old man? like school kids yelling at each other. your mama, that kind of stuff. >> i would guess it's a euphemism. in polite company, you can't say certain things about the president. they'll say, well, he's not an american. >> what's it euphemistic for? >> they like the fact that it bothers people like you, chris, and i think they get more pleasure out of bugging you than anything else. >> i would be surprised if he
spends mornings thinking about how to bug me, but here is frankly graham, asked of possible presidential candidates. listen to what the reverend junior graham had to say. >> i met mitt romney, no question he's a very capable person. he's proven himself. donald trump, when i saw that he was getting in, i thought it's a joke but the more you listen to him, the more you say to yourself, he might be right. >> he might be your candidate of choice? >> yeah, sure, yeah. >>. >> let's take a look at this. franklin graham with a history of saying incendiary things. listen to a few of things he's said in the past year. >> i said that islam, after 9/11, that islam was wicked and evil. i don't believe that mohammed can lead anybody to god. first of all, i think the president's problem is that he was born a muslim. his father was a muslim. the seed of islam is passed through the father. his was born a muslim. his father gave him a muslim name. now, it's obvious that the
president has renounced the prophet mohammed and renounced islam and accepted jesus christ. that's what he says he's done. i cannot say that he hasn't. so i just have to believe the president is what he's said. >> what is this seed of islam? he says islam is a joke of religion and then quoting the seed of islam. somehow you become part of a religion without any forethought. >> it makes me -- i think it makes everyone -- you have to be careful who you associate and say are your backers and the fact that trump and graham embracing myself makes me scared of foreign policy. almost like sarah palin not knowing where alaska and florida are. you need to be able to have someone who can have a conversation and lead and make strategic decisions and garner respect. >> why would he glom onto this guy? errol, why does he want franklin graham behind him? and then his wonderful father billy. a different kettle of fish. i think we all agree by now. >> he's trying to get
legitimacy, clearly. he's looking for friends anywhere he can find them and how you run for a president. at least in the early stages, or that's one version of how you run for president. he could stand on principle and remain single digits in the poll and fade away like haley barbour. he's chosen a different strategy. >> i want to plumb the depths of you, errol. i want to do some teeth drilling on you. he gets up in the morning to try to bug me, which i find almost laughable. but fine. the last thing you said, he does this to appeal to the birther crowd. who are the birther crowd? >> i mean, they're self-defined. people that believe that insanity. 84% of democrats reject it. 69% of independents reject it. apparently something around 46% of republicans do not reject it so, you know, there you have it. you know, beyond that, i don't know how you slice and dice them and where they fall as far as the geography or religion or anything else. they're out there. >> can you help me guess with with this one?
i guess rural and right wing and don't like barack obama before they questioned the birthplace. >> we need to be careful of birther equals tea party. >> i didn't say that. >> you didn't but others are saying that and where trump says tea party. he's trying to say he is a tea party guy, but he's gone into bankruptcy four times, used every loophole. >> you are being partisan here. >> i am not. >> there's something going on. i want you both to tell me, why is he doing so well in the polls? if he's a joke. >> right now a ham sandwich would do well in the republican primary. there's no -- he's a celebrity. people recognize the name. >> yes, sir? >> i don't think he's a joke. he's talked about trade policy, other things very seriously. this birther thing is pure insanity and a bit of political hucksterism. but other than that, he's a serious candidate. >> i don't think you can say he's a serious candidate looking at what he said. he's glib. he's got one line. flip flops every second. new york is other than probably my hometown of boston, home area of boston, new york is a hot bed
of political -- you guys are starting to sizzle him up a little bit. >> i'm confused. not confused. i do think we're seeing a statement here. i believe the early round of republican candidate that is put the names out there are not working. i think mitt romney's like the dog food the dog no wanted. no matter how much advertising, no matter how good he looks, he doesn't like the taste of dog food. i think the talk of mitch daniels, intellectualism never going anywhere. in the end, you have to pick a human being to be president of the united states who you trust more than the other guy and that's the republican conundrum for a while now. maybe next year they'll solve it. >> then trump is not the solution for them. you can see that by rove and others trying to run away from trump and disqualify him right now. we have had primaries where some people didn't like john kerry. everyone looks for the superstar. you don't get superstar races every single time out in a presidential cycle. i think we need to be careful not to overlook the work horses out there.
the guys, unfortunately, and michelle bachmann. maybe not her. going to iowa and new hampshire, slogging -- >> did you hear the standard change? you -- >> jumping to -- >> michele bachmann is a serious candidate for president, because we've got donald trump in the race. >> there you go. >> moved the center strip. >> nothing succeeds like success. win a couple primaries and a lot of stuff will start to fade away. remember barack obama and the some of the warts he had. >> i just got the word from the office that when he announces apparently what, june 1st, he's going to come on this show and give us a lot of information about the plans so that's what i want donald trump on the show and willing to wait and i don't think you get up in the morning to bother me. errol, i think you're wrong on that one. but you're a new yorker and obsessed with the intramurals up there. thank you very much for joining us, and thank you, jenny, as always. the republicans get dumped. the law firm hired to fight doma backs out.
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new crest pro-health invigorating clean rinse. back to "hardball" and the "side show." drill baby drill. it's back. it didn't take long. here's tim paw this morning, tim pawlenty. this morning. >> this is a president who has sat on his hands as it relates to drilling. you know, we've got a country that's got some enormous energy asset that is are not being exploited or leveraged to the benefit of our country and our people. >> nobody thinks the country can drill its way out of high gas prices. next up, republicans get dumped. under pressure of gay rights groups the law firm that agreed to defend the defense of marriage act for house republicans pulled out. angry at the decision, paul
clement, a former solicitor general for george bush, quit the firm in protest. he said, unpopular causes have a right to a defense. i may not agree with the politics but you can't argue with the principle. the courts should settle things like this. finally, cooking the books. this month republican jon kyl told a whopper on the senate floor saying abortions are 90% of what planned parenthood does. the real number, 3%. senator kyl made matters wort by putting out word that it was not intended to be a factual statement. what he said. well, now he's back pedaling and went a step further and revised the statement in the permanent record. the daily record printed this night had what he originally said. up next, the big debate in the country about reining in the deficit. why can't democrats make that issue work for them?
i'm melissa ray blurringer the u.s. is exploring sanctions against syria in response to a bloody crackdown on protesters. another round of severe weather is pushing across the storm-weary midwest. it's causing flooding in at least three states. a federal judge has ordered an end to a nfl lockout. the nfl says it will appeal. back to "hardball." could you support a deal here out of this gang of six on the budget that includes tax increases? >> well, we are not talking about -- we are not talking
about raising tax rates at all so if there's a net effect of tax revenue that would be fine. >> john greenspan was on this program last week and said the bush era tax cuts should expire for everybody. is that not fair? >> you have to work both sides of the equation but we did not raise tax rates in this proposal. what we did was have tax reform. >> welcome back. that was tom coburn of oklahoma and kent conrad of north dakota on "meet the press" yesterday. can democrats and republicans fix the budget? former labor secretary robert reich and author of "aftershock" and larry sabatos author of "pendulum swing. gentlemen, thank you for coming on the show this is bogged up or clogged up in american politics. that is, you can only adjust one side of the ledger now. cutting spending and that's all anybody talks about. we have a poll you might not be
shocked by. 53% opposed to a small tax increase and small cuts in medicare. written as minuscule and a fair proposition and people reject it. should we sock it to people that make most of the money and 3 to 1 tax people over 72%. robert reich, seems like people don't want any kind of an across the board adjustment in anything. they only get excited about hitting people hard who they are not. in other words, i can read a poll and know that most people respond making less than 250 a year and say hit the people who do make more. is this where we're at? only go after the rich, that's it? >> the most interesting part of that poll is 54%, 54% of registered republicans said taxes should be increased on the rich. now, i haven't seen anything
like that for the last 30 or 40 years. and i haven't been following every poll for 30 or 40 years but for years republicans have been saying and most of the public is believing that if you cut taxes on the rich then you get trickle down economics and benefits everybody and also if you increase taxes on the rich everybody will be hurt because some day everybody's going to be a millionaire. those are two mythologies and have gone out of style and fashion and even republicans begin to say, look, if we have no other choice, raise taxes on the rich. >> so if this's the voters' opinion, larry, why isn't it happening? both parties -- we saw two members of congress who are supposed to be in the middle cutting the deal that are gunshy, both of them, any kind of tax increase. >> yeah. because a poll is a not an election. that's fundamentally the
difference here. look. the reason republicans almost universally, not just tea party republicans, but mainstream republicans oppose any tax increase is because if they do they're guaranteed not just a tea party challenge, they're probably going to be challenged in a primary of another mainstream republican and it's got on the the point where tax increases are now defined at least by some like the friend glover nor exist as the elimination of tax subsidies for things like the ethanol industry so it's getting tougher and tougher even to raise fees and close loopholes and eliminate subsidies. >> well, this is a problem for both parties because, robert, if you can't get any give from the republican side on revenues, on taxes, even on an increase in revenue through reform, if you can't do that, it seems to me very hard to get the democrats to agree to any kind of cut in spending and the president can't get a party to do a budget adjustment, any kind of effort to reduce the deficit that's real if the other side won't increase revenue. neither side will move then. is that where we're at? nobody wants to do anything because nobody's doing anything. >> if you assume promise is halfway between the president's proposal and paul ryan's proposal, then, yes, you are
stymied completely. but if the public and i think a lot of republicans and not a few democrats are getting a lot of news when they go home right now at town meetings, when the public registered what they want, no cut in social security or medicare, and do tax the rich and let's get rid of corporate welfare, let's pear pare down military spending, when so many representatives are hearing that in the town meetings you might actually see a more, a greater willingness to compromise when they come back. >> well, i see that don't touch medicare. i don't see the excitement of raising taxes. do you hear it, larry? >> no. >> for the rich. >> i'm with you, chris. >> that he demand it at meetings? >> well, i don't know what people are saying in their meetings. i doubt that's what the republican members are hearing and remember it would have to pass the republican house. look. there's only one open window for a compromise and that is, bob mentioned corporate welfare. i think republicans would say as senator coburn did, closing
loopholes, tax reform. that may be a way to produce some kind of compromise but if you're talking about a jenin crease in tax rates, forget about it. not going to happen. >> well, larry, i completely agree with larry on that. no increase in general tax rates but increasing taxes on the rich. not only getting rid of the, you know, extension of the bush tax cuts but also, for example, capping home mortgage interest deductions, maybe, what, $20,000 a year? there are a lot of things that can be done that would get in my view a great deal of public support.
>> but you're not running for anything, robert and larry is not running for anything and made the point that's crisply stated. there's a difference between a poll and an election f. all you have to do is expose yourself as a republican to any kind of so i'm afraid that the solution politically for these crowd of people in politics today is do nothing. let the deficit ride. robert, don't you think that's what's going to happen, really? let it balloon and not do anything about it. >> chris, always the path of least resistance is to do nothing but if the dollar continues to drop, if we see that -- it's not just standard & poor's but capital markets are afraid that the republicans and democrats doing nothing then their hands may be forced and do something and then the question is, what are they going to cut or what tax are they going to raise? i think if you can raise any taxes at all, it's on the rich. >> i don't see any leadership from either party cutting a deal. larry, what about barbour quitting? i thought he might be a tea party appealing person but without being a tea party person. what do you think? why did he quit? >> chris, i think he's one of the smartest politicians in
either party and he just proved it today. he wasn't selling. and he picked it up. he wasn't selling because of the d.c. lobbyist thing, the mississippi connections, because of his accent and looks. and he decided i think rather sanely he didn't want to go through the tortured presidential selection process for nothing. >> so now there's only a couple left. there's jeb and maybe christie. who's the -- what do you call it? the dark horse for you. who's going to come in the race and win it on the republican side, anybody? >> i doubt anybody comes in but the person who just keeps being mentioned is chris christie and he loves it no matter what he's saying. >> i agree with you completely on that. robert reich, chris christie, what do you think? big surprise. >> he could be a very strong candidate but don't take your eyes off mitt romney. he looks the part. he acts the part. gleaming white teeth. i know the public is -- >> you are setting him up. you are setting this guy up. duller than you can imagine.
>> mitt romney is an empty -- chris, i'm not a supporter of mitt romney. he's a strong candidate. he is an empty suit. in fact -- >> you heard what i said the other day? he gives empty suits a bad name. thank you. you are just setting this guy up. up next, nato's ratcheting up the pressure on moammar gadhafi targeting the main compound. the norwegians are shooting at this guy. boy, fascinating. not us. norwegians. f-16s from norway. we'll get a report from the front lines. ♪
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as we just mentioned on the show, mississippi governor barbour is not running for president. and that means mississippi will remain one of the 32 states that has never produced a u.s. president. wow, i didn't know that one. in fact, of 44 presidents, 28 came from 6 states. ohio, new york, virginia, massachusetts, tennessee and texas. wow. i didn't know that. you learn something new every night here. "hardball" back after this. [ male announcer ] you are a business pro.
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today in libya, nato forces attacked gadhafi's personal compound in tripoli causing heavy damage. a libyan government spokesman called it an assassination attempt. the u.s. military said he was not the target. nbc news chief foreign correspondent richard engel is in benghazi, libya. richard, is that to be believed they were not trying to knock off gadhafi by going after the personal office? >> reporter: it's very hard to see how it wouldn't be perceived that way if you are in libya. imagine if a foreign government attacks the white house and then says, well, we weren't exactly trying to kill the president. we were just trying to destroy some command and control issues there so from the libyan perspective, yes, i can see how it's perceived that way. according to a u.s. official, the two norwegian f-16s fired to destroy command and control facilities. they destroyed the personal office, a library and reception hall and as you mentioned in the last segment you have to be one unpopular world leader to have the norwegians attacking you.
yes, i thought that. let me ask you about misrata. a retreat by the government forces, by gadhafi there that seemed to surprise even the rebels. there was something of a comeback by them. how do youthen. how do you see that fight going over in misrata? we have it on the map. >> reporter: misrata has been described as a massacre, what happened over the weekend. gadhafi's forces pulled back, the rebels became very excited, they were claiming victory, even people here in benghazi started to celebrate, they were calling misrata liberated, and then as the troops pulled back to the outskirts of the city, all weekend, there was indiscriminate shelling, a school was hit, a hospital was hit. maybe 45 to 50 people at least, according to medics, were killed. unless they get some direct air support, constant air support, many people believe that there will be many more deaths in misrata. the president and the predator
drones have helped, but they don't seem to be in the sky enough or attacking enough to provide any kind of real security for the people of misrata. >> can you report that we have changed our strategy, that we're going for the kill, if you will. that we are escalating the nato forces, the attempt to topple gadhafi or not. are we still at that limited warfare mode? >> reporter: i think we are definitely still in the limited warfare mode. in the very beginning of this conflict, when it was led by the united states, not by nato with u.s. participation, there was a much more aggressive military campaign. every day, we were seeing dozens of libyan armored vehicles being destroyed. that tempo, the battle tempo, has been greatly reduced. there was this very symbolic and dramatic attack on gadhafi's compound today. there have been other attacks on gadhafi's compound. this was just with bigger bombs. >> well, we heard john mccain over the weekend go in there and basically side with the rebels and say, we've got to really go in there and help them.
but here's lindsey graham, his longtime ally from south carolina, on libya. let's listen to lindsey graham. >> it is leading to a military stalemate. right now, there's just not enough moment by the rebels, even if they're better armed, to break through to tripoli. there's not deep support for gadhafi. so my recommendation to nato and the administration is to cut the head of the snake off. go to tripoli, start bombing gadhafi's inner circle, their compounds, their military headquarters in tripoli. >> do we have the mandate within nato or, rather, within the u.n. security council, to support that kind of mission? to go in and topple this government? >> reporter: no. the mandate is simply to protect the libyan people and not to engage in regime change. the mandate would have to change. but many people say the policy is effectively to topple the regime. you saw these fighter jets today, from norway, attacking the main compound of gadhafi in the center of tripoli.
so, everyone knows that toppling the regime is the undeclared objective, but there isn't a written mandate to do that. >> well, this is beginning to resemble, in very broad terms, the bay of pigs. it looks like we've gone in there to try to topple somebody. now, fidel castro was still in cuba. i'm beginning to wonder, is there any reason to believe that gadhafi will be out of there before president obama leaves office? what's to believe here in terms of this ending anywhere in the foreseeable future? why would gadhafi go anywhere, as long as he can make the strong stand he's making now? >> he certainly wouldn't. and there are no indications that he has any intention of doing that. after the attack on his compound, gadhafi was seen on libyan state television, his son came out, called the attack cowardly, he said that he has no intention of bowing down or raising his hands in surrender. but there are some things that are working against gadhafi right now. the rebels in misrata do have some support. they were able to clear out a limited pocket of the center.
sure, they were attacked. but significantly, the rebels have also taken over a part of territory on the other side of tripoli, close to the tunisian border. so if there is more momentum, they could pincer in and squeeze around gadhafi, but that happens, yes, this could take months, perhaps even longer than that. >> okay, thank you so much, richard engel in benghazi, libya. when we come back, let me finish with the two kinds of republicans out there today. they're becoming clear. don't know what to give her this mother's day? how about a smile? at 1-800-flowers.com, we can design an arrangement that is sure to delight. [ doorbell ] 1-800-flowers. ohh! take our "tote-ally" original, "tote-ally" mom bouquet, a stylish gift that fits her perfectly. this mother's day, don't settle for the ordinary. send a creation that's truly her. call, click or come in, and let us arrange a smile for you this mother's day, starting at $29.99.
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let me finish tonight with that old one about, there are two kinds of people in this world. those who are think there are two kinds of people and those who don't. well, today, there are two kinds of republicans in this country. those who are into the birther thing and those who aren't. i think most americans, democrat, independent, and republican are proud of our country that we could elect barack obama president, i believe that. even those of who didn't vote for him, want to believe you can make it no humble or different your background. well, the republican party, like the rest of the country, is roughly divided on this issue. it's about even-steven between the people who are happy who can
meet up to our ideals and those who can't deal with the fact that barack obama is president, a guy named barack obama is president, a guy who looks like barack obama is president, the guy whose father was a black african is president. they just don't like it. well, tonight i offer two americans to personify this big difference. i offer you the name michael bloomberg, who himself personifies the republican or american ideal, issued say, who created something really great. bloomberg communications. and became mayor of new york on the republican ticket. i offer the name franklin graham, born to a fine name, perhaps the finest father you could have in this country, billy graham, born with all the pedigree one would want in this country. mike bloomberg just said the republicans are making a big mistake making this birther issue a big deal. mr. grandma has said that donald trump is now his candidate for president. no surprise here, graham's accused the president of having the seed of islam in him, whatever the hell that means, so it's perfect that trump's his guy. he was riding the birther horse long before trump jumped into the saddle,